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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - SEP. 2

By Joe Nelson
Posted 09/03/2013 at 11:24 AM

It was a rocky opening weekend for the Big XII, a conference that traded plenty of barbs with the SEC over the summer. Kansas State, the 2012 champion of the conference took a loss to FCS North Dakota State while Iowa State fell to FCS Northern Iowa. West Virginia nearly suffered the same fate with a late score holding off the upset against William & Mary. TCU stayed in its big game with LSU but was dominated statistically and could have lost by a larger margin if not for a few big plays. The top teams led by Texas, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma all prevailed but not without very shaky first half performances. Baylor also won with ease in a light matchup leaving the only really impressive showing of the weekend to Texas Tech, who pulled away from SMU in a somewhat misleading final.
              
Even though Virginia Tech and North Carolina were losers vs. the SEC, Clemson’s win over Georgia was huge for the ACC as it tries to build its national stature. The Tigers are now squarely in the national title conversation but games with Florida State and South Carolina remain on a tough schedule. The Hokies lost by 25 against Alabama but the young defense was impressive and it could have been a much closer game if not for three return touchdowns for the Tide. It will be Miami’s opportunity this week with a huge game against Florida, while Virginia has a chance at a major upset hosting Oregon as a heavy underdog.
 
Within the SEC what will be one of the most memorable finishes of the season occurred in the Vanderbilt/Mississippi game with a wild exchange of scores in the final two minutes. Many called last week’s Clemson/Georgia game a title game elimination game but really this week’s South Carolina/Georgia game more appropriately serves that roll. If Georgia loses a second time they will almost certainly be out of contention while if South Carolina loses to Georgia they will have a very tough time winning the SEC East and getting a shot at the SEC championship.
              
While the college opening weekend offered great excitement the NFL is still king and this week’s opening schedule is very intriguing. As our System of the Week illustrates five teams that won 10 or more games last season will play as an underdog this week with some great matchups to kick off the season. The defending Super Bowl champions will be one of the biggest underdogs of the week. There are some big lines in the opening weekend with only three games currently featuring a line of three or less. The totals to open the season are far higher than in most past seasons as well with the rule changes continuing to promote offense.
 
While the talk of the senseless preseason injuries and hopes to change the preseason format have been prominent, it is worth noting that the opening college weekend without preseason games featured several notable injuries as well with QBs Cain Kolter (Northwestern), Brandon Mitchell (NC State), and Logan Kilgore (MTSU) all injured as well as WR Malcolm Mitchell for Georgia. Injuries are just a big part of football and having depth and back-up plans is proving to be more and more important at any level. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…

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